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"Surrogate" is a song and soundscape dwelling on a deeply difficult decision made by a Sarai and Abram in Genesis 16:1-2.

Genesis 16:1-2



Jonathon Roberts


Performed by Jonathon Roberts
Artist Location: New York City

Curated by: 

Jonathon Roberts


Image by Giorgio Trovato

Primary Scripture

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, bore him no children. She had a servant, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
Sarai said to Abram, “See now, Yahweh has restrained me from bearing. Please go in to my servant. It may be that I will obtain children by her.” Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

Genesis 16:1-2

Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, "The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her." Abram agreed to what Sarai said.

This song imagines a modern couple in this situation. While his wife is busy showering in another room, a husband prepares to propose a similar solution as the one Sarai and Abram navigated.

The great thing about exploring the Bible using music or other time-based art is that it can stretch out moments that are hugely significant yet only represented by a few verses. It also helps us understand and empathize with people from a seemingly very distant time and culture.

The artwork accompanying this piece is a detail of a painting entitled "Premonition" by Charis Carmichael Braun, used by permission.

Spark Notes

The Artist's Reflection

Jonathon Roberts is a composer and sound designer for games, film, theatre, and ensembles. His style grew out of classical and jazz training, and evolved through quality life adventures: touring the country in an RV with a one person theater piece on the Apostle Paul, living in Brooklyn with an improv music ensemble, performing in a downtown NYC absurdist comedy band, and a long stint writing music for the renowned slot machine company, High 5 Games. He has released four albums including the latest, Cities a song cycle personifying biblical cities. He created the popular podcast/web series ComposerDad Vs. Bible, in which ComposerDad accepts intense compositional challenges from a mysterious Bible while out with his kids. He frequently collaborates on music and theater projects with his wife, actor Emily Clare Zempel. They live in Beacon, NY, with their two boys and a tangled box of electrical cords.

Jonathon Roberts

About the Artist

Loving Arms

I Make Tents

The Sower


There Is Room

These are My Sons

Consider Me a Partner


The Day Is Almost Here


Remember Me


How Beautiful

I Am a Fool

The Constant

Ecclesiastes Cows


Fools for Christ

More Than Rubies

Only a Few Years Will Pass

Dear Friend

Jonathon Roberts

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